US based Laura Legendary runs her own jewellery company producing beautiful and innovative Brailled pieces. Being blind has not stopped her from running her own business, StyleAble spoke to her about the inspiration behind her creations…

A selection of Elegant Insights jewellery hanging from a stand 1. How did you come up with the idea for your Braille jewellery design company?

Elegant Insights products were inspired by a gift I received while struggling through an agonizing time in my life, the loss of my beloved husband, Billy.  Life is a journey consisting of many twists and turns, some of them painful and difficult to navigate.  So, for a bit of inspiration, I was given a tiny little talisman to help me keep moving forward.  It was a “worry stone,” with the word “survivor” engraved on one side, and to my surprise, the same word embossed in Braille on the other.  Right then and there, the light bulb went on over my head, and the entire concept of the Elegant Insights collection came to me in a single flash of inspiration. Never one to ignore my intuition or neglect an insight, I set about the task of finding a manufacturer to assist me in bringing my ideas to life.

2. How do you Braille your jewellery?

Initially, I sought a manufacturer already mass-producing Braille jewellery.  I looked everywhere, including out-of-country options, and realized that there was no such animal.  Besides, I really wanted to find a manufacturer in the USA, since I am a flag-waving maniac, after all.  What I found was a handful of artisans who made Braille jewellery products on a small scale.  They utilised a number of fascinating techniques to make their products.  Some used bead-setting, some used metal casting, some used stamping, some used embroidery or other needlework techniques.  I even found one company that used diamonds as the Braille dots!  All were beautiful.  I soon realized that no single technique would be sufficient for my product line.  I then decided to assemble my own team who would apply their creative energy to “catch the vision,” and create the quality jewelry and accessories I wanted to offer.

3. What is your bestselling piece?

Right now, our best-selling item is our purse charms line. We offer them in metal tones to match most purse hardware, and they are a great way to add “bling” to an otherwise plain handbag, or to make a fashion statement by choosing a theme that matches your personality.  Our beautiful purse charms consist of a colourful cascade of beads, faux pearls, crystals and shiny rondelles terminating with a Braille-embossed charm at the bottom.  You can choose a heart, star, guitar pick, butterfly or simple geometric shapes in brass, copper or stainless steel.

4. What do your customers usually ask for in terms of customisation?

Everyone has their own ideas as to inspirational words or sentiments that are meaningful.  Some have asked for spiritual words such as “faith” or “rejoice” others have wanted motivational terms such as “strength” or “believe” and still others have requested the names of those they love, or their own monogram on a charm.  It’s been a mixed bag.

Brailled purse charm with bauble detailing5. What materials do you work with?

We use contemporary metals such as brass, copper, stainless steel, and soon we hope to offer sterling silver.  We also use natural gemstone beads for a splash of colour, along with faux pearls, and we love the subtle sparkle of hematite.

6. How do you see your designs developing?

The Elegant Insights product line will feature a number of collections based upon various media.  For example, I hope to roll out a line of jewellery and accessory products featuring rivets as embellishments.  We also plan to expand our currently limited selection of leather items into jewellery and accessories for both men and women, such as bookmarks and business card cases.  We also invite design ideas from our customers.  So far, our customers have provided us with a few really interesting and creative ideas that we plan to incorporate into future collections.  In some cases, our customers have designed pieces that are one-of-a-kind gifts for their friends or loved ones.

7. Do you have any plans to stock your pieces in any retail outlets and if so, which ones?

Isn’t that the dream of all entrepreneurs?  Distribution!  I would love to have the Elegant Insights collection available in retail stores or catalogues.  Currently, we are talking with several companies in an effort to achieve just that, but it’s a process.  We hope that you will be able to find a piece or two at your local low vision store or in the “lifestyle products” section of your favourite online aids for daily living web site.  Right now, we are working very hard to get the word out about our beautiful jewellery, and to ensure that as many people as possible can get their hands on it, to feel the embossing and the warm glow of the contemporary metals we use.  To that end, we have been attending blindness-related conferences and showing the line in the exhibit halls.  Feeling is believing!  The Elegant Insights collection is jewellery with tactile style!

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